Israel Celebrates 71st Independence Day in Torch-lighting Ceremony

Israeli President Rivlin calls to 'heal the fissures and mend the cracks between tribe and tribe and between man and man'

Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein speaks during the torch-lighting ceremony in Jerusalem, May 8, 2019.
Emil Salman

Israel celebrated its 71st Independence Day Wednesday evening in an official torch-lighting ceremony held on Mount Hertzl in Jerusalem.

President Reuven Rivlin wrote in a published address: "Amos Oz, my classmate from Jerusalem who recently left us, said that all moral orders can be reduced to one: 'Thou shalt not hurt.' My hope this year is that we will no longer try to hurt. We must heal the fissures and mend the cracks between tribe and tribe and between man and man. This is the welfare of the people and the welfare of the state. "

Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein dedicated his torch to the residents in Gaza border communities, saying that they "prove the endless dedication and devotion that love of the land is not a slogan whose time has passed, but a way of life."

>> Read more: Israel Independence Day 2019: A time for dwindling hope, a time for growing fears 

"The people of Israel have one slogan: 'Against all odds.' They beat us and we stood up, they ravaged us and we moved on, exiled us and we always returned to the homeland," Edelstein said.

"I turn to you, the child who is now watching the ceremony. You are part of a wonderful story that began in this country against all odds and its continuation depends on you," he added.

A recorded video of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who was in attendance, was also played.

Among those lighting torches included Marie Nachmias, who fostered 52 Arab and Jewish children, and Kfir Damari, who was one of the founders of the Beresheet space project, Dr. Hodaya Oliel, a physician with cerebral palsy, Iris Yifrach, Rachel Frenkel and Bat Galime Shaer, the mothers of three yeshiva students who were kidnapped and murdered and Jeffrey Finkelstein, a leader of the Jewish community in Pittsburgh.